Indian captain Rohit Sharma says ‘challenging’ to play Pakistan ahead of Asia Cup encounter

Indian skipper Rohit Sharma on Saturday said they have learnt from their previous loss to Pakistan but playing their arch-rivals in the hotly-anticipated Asia Cup match will be a challenge.

The two teams begin their campaign in the Twenty20 tournament on Sunday in Dubai, a venue where India suffered a 10-wicket thrashing to Pakistan in last year’s T20 World Cup.

“The mood in the camp is buzzing. It’s a fresh tournament, a new start. Not to think about what has happened in the past and that’s how the team moves forward,” Sharma told reporters.

“It will be a challenge to play against Pakistan without a doubt, but for us what is important is what we are thinking as a group and what we want to achieve from this tournament.”

The two teams only play each other in multi-nation tournaments due to political tension and the result of their previous meeting has been a talking point in the lead-up to the six-nation Asia Cup.

It was Pakistan’s first win over India in a World Cup, but Rohit said they have now put the loss behind them.

“We do talk about our losses, that’s how we improve as a team. That loss did hurt us at that point, but I think it’s been a while since that game has been played,” said Sharma.

“We learn from our mistakes. For now, it’s a fresh start for us and obviously, the team is coming out of playing a lot of T20 cricket. We will not think too much about what happened in October, that was a long time back.”

Dubai has witnessed a lot of warmth between the players of both teams and on Friday Sharma went out of his way to meet a group of cheering Pakistan fans at the practice venue.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam and Indian superstar Virat Kohli also exchanged pleasantries, a sight not very common between players of the two nations, which have fought three wars.

‘Not unusual’

forced out due to a knee injury.

“Every match is important for me and it is my responsibility as captain that I give my 100 per cent,” Azam said in his role as a batsman and a captain.

“Whatever is in my hand I do the best. And enjoy my cricket.”

Pace bowler Hasan Ali will join the team on Sunday in place of Mohammad Wasim who became the second on the injury list after Afridi.

“Injuries are part of the team. We have a good bench strength and we have a young battery of fast bowlers who have performed well and I have belief in them,” said Azam.